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Simmandl, Billè, or Rabbath

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Nivaca, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    Hi! Throughout my musical education, I was instructed with Simmandl's two methods and etudes (my teacher is very fond of Simmandl's approach to bass playing). But now I wish to explore new options and, looking into it, two names have appeared at sight: Billè and Rabbath. I have found (from this Forum) more or less some information about Rabbath's Nouvelle Technique, whereas of Billè's methods I know nothing.
    Can some kind soul instruct me on the differences between these three schools?
  2. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    I'm no expert on it but I have dabbled in Bille a bit. I've been trying to to learn Jeff Bradetich's method of using a cello fingering in second and third postition. To build my third finger stength, my teacher photo copied me a few pages out of the bille book. The main thing I noticed in Bille is that you replace your second finger with third finger in the lower positions. I find its more comfortable than second finger, especially when playing on the A and E string.

    Having never actually studied out of Simandl, I can't tell you how different it is from Rabbath's Nouvelle technique, but I know that Simandl gets quite a lot of bad press about being old fashioned and stuffy. I highly recomend you look into Rabbath's books though.
  3. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    I'll look on that. Thanks for the help.
    What's that Jeff Bradetich's method you talk about?
  4. Ken Smith is TBs man on Bille which if I've got hold of the right end of the stick is an Italian fingering method which differs from Simandl in that Simandl is 124 and Bille/Italian fingering uses fingers 134 instead. Ken reccomends the studies highly but by way of using normal fingers 124 instead of 134. I doubt many people teach or use this fingering.

    Ken has reffered to Bille in these forums on several occassions - search will find it.
  5. bassbuz


    Jun 21, 2005
    I changed technique midstream from 124 to 134, and only when I started teaching did I realize what I actually did - I used both fingers depending on what key I'm in. for example, in C I might play 34 for B to C on the g string. Then, going from C Bb A is, for me 421. it keeps things in tune, somehow. the other thing is that it allows "gamba fingering": for example, mendelssohn 88, the d,c#d a fast bit becomes 313 across to d string on 2. like a guitar chord. Well.
    There you go.
  6. hmm - I'll try it as an option - thanks!
  7. JoeyNaeger

    JoeyNaeger Guest Commercial User

    Jun 24, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Bass Specialist, Lisle Violin Shop
    Jeff Bradetich is the bass profesor at the University of North Texas and is an absolutley fantastic player and teacher. Every summer he has a week long camp for college and high school level students which I've attended twice. He has a technique DVD out that you may want to check out(along with two very good cd's). He studied with a cello teacher in highschool, hence his method of playing.
  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Can't speak to Bille, but, generally, Rabbath's technique divides the fingerboard into positions based on natural harmonics - thus, using the G string as a reference, 1st position covers open G to C; 2d covers C to D; 3d covers D to octave G; and 4th covers octave G to the D above.

    Notes within the lower positions usually are reached by pivoting on the thumb rather than shifting the entire hand; the 3rd finger can replace the 4th finger in the 3rd position, and the thumb plus fingers 1-3 cover the entire 4th position.

    I've described it as something of a hodgepodge, but it's surprisingly intuitive, and -- unlike Simandl -- it has the advantage of quickly getting the player comfortable in all zones of the fingerboard.
  9. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    I can't understand what is it that you describe. Can you give me an example? Thanks!
  10. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Rather than shifting the entire left hand from one position to the other on the neck, the left hand thumb remains at the same spot on the neck while the rest of the hand moves to reach the relevant note.

    Put another way, your LH second finger won't always be opposite your LH thumb when using Rabbath.
  11. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    Oh, very nice! Thanks a lot!
  12. KSB - Ken Smith

    KSB - Ken Smith Banned Commercial User

    Mar 1, 2002
    Perkasie, PA USA
    Owner: Ken Smith Basses, Ltd.
    From what I just read above, it sounds like the Rabbith method uses 'Sections' rather than Positions as we know it. More of a Concept type study than individual notes. As you play longer you will see this in your head as you read music. I see positions as a suggested way to play while you learn the Bass from end to end.

    The Bille' method may be good with the 3rd in the lower positions so you don't have to stretch so far for a half step. This is re-training for me so I use 1-2 and stretch or Pivot.

    I like the Music in the Bille' and he moves up the positions more freely as well, his Scale Variations and 5th string applications. I just bought a Bottesini Method and it is also very interesting and musical like the Bille'.

    All in all, I believe that Simandl is STILL the Bible for learning the positions if you have the patience to learn them properly.

    I have never seen the Rabbith so I can't comment on it but I own dozens of books and the more the merrier I say. If youv'e done the Simaldl, then start with Bille' for some freshness in your parcticing.
  13. I can recommend the Eugene Levinson Book, which is basically just scales and broken chords in all 12 keys for something new after mastering the Simandl method which is in my opinion the mandatory starting point for left hand technique if you want to play in tune. He endorses 124 for Major 2nd intervals, and 134 for minor third intervals with the leading tone. This really makes the most sense musically and gives the benefits of four finger technique without the difficult and physically dangerous stretch between the 2nd and 3rd fingers. I have found that his fingering makes both orchestral and solo music a lot easier to finger by avoiding a lot of back and forth shifting.

  14. kwd


    Jun 26, 2003
    silicon valley
    My teacher uses Nanni and then augments it with Billé when his students get to a certain point in the Nanni book. The Billé studies are more musical. He seems to concentrate more on interpretation with Billé -which makes sense as there's more musical substance. He has me use the second finger so as not to conflict with the Nanni work. Personally, I would find using Billé on its own to be frustrating as it doesn't move methodically through the positions the way Nanni or Simandl does. It sounds as if you have a solid foundation so it might work for you.
  15. Nivaca


    Jan 8, 2005
    Chris, I've been trying the pivot technique you wrote about, and I've found some interesting things about it. But I also found that, if the thumb is normally behind the index (as opposed to the ortodox middle) finger, then the pivotting is much more easier. Am I right?

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